¼ pound bacon, diced
6 stalks celery, cut thin
2 medium onions, finely chopped
2 tablespoons butter
1 quart chicken stock
Black pepper, to taste
½ teaspoon thyme ( leaves, not ground)
1 ½ pounds potatoes
8 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons flour
1 quart milk, hot
20 oz minced clams
Chopped parsley for garnish
OPTIONAL 4 very ripe tomatoes, diced.
In a large stock pot, bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Blanch the bacon in the boiling water for about 2 minutes. Drain the bacon.
In the bottom of that large stock pot, sauté celery and onions in 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat until soft, but not browned.
Into the pot, add the chicken stock. Add juice only from the clams, reserving the meat. Bring to a simmer and add pepper and thyme.
Wash the potatoes and dice without peeling. Add to the pot and simmer until potatoes are cooked but still firm.
In a medium sauce plan, melt the 8 tablespoons butter then whisk in the flour. Cook over low heat and stir for 1 minute but do not brown. Add hot milk and stir until thickened. Set aside (you have just made a béchamel sauce!)
When the potatoes are just tender, add drained clams and béchamel sauce. Stir and simmer for 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with parsley garnish.
OPTIONAL: add 4 very ripe diced tomatoes along with the drained clams and the béchamel sauce. This is not a Manhattan chowder, it simply is a blend that turns out to be very rich!